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Feeling Guilty or Selfish About Your Time

Let me know if this sounds familiar. You come home from work ready to be active, get in a workout, or go for a run. You’re determined. The only problem is the second you walk in the door your bombarded with, “Daddy!”

Your child, or children, run to give you a hug. Before you even have time to take off your jacket they’re pulling you to the couch or floor, imploring you to play or show you something they made. Playtime quickly becomes dinnertime, which quickly becomes bathtime, then bedtime, which quickly becomes collapse-on-the-couch-with-your-wife-time.

By this point you’re exhausted, your motivation is shot, and it’s time to go to bed and start the day over again.

It happens to us all. How could we possibly think about ourselves when we’re overcome by so much love, responsibility and excitement the second we walk in the door? By the time you’ve taken care of the kids, how could you not spend a few minutes “bonding” with your wife in front of your favorite Netflix show? That’s why our time is SO valuable.

It’s natural to feel guilty when we want time to ourselves. But consider this for a second: when you’re riding on an airplane, during the safety instructions, they always tell you that you have to put your mask on before trying to help anyone else. Why? If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re no good to anyone else.

The same is true in everyday life. If you don’t take the time to quiet your mind you won’t have the patience to deal with those you love. If you don’t take the time to exercise, you won’t have the stamina to keep up with your children. If you don’t take the time to eat right you won’t be healthy enough to support them later in life. By taking care of yourself right now, you ensure you can take care of your loved ones longer into the future. By making self-care part of your routine, you’re better prepared to deal with the minor catastrophes that happen in life.

When I come home from work, after giving me a hug, my two-year-old son says, ‘Dadda workout!’

While alone time is important, taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be something you do alone. I used to think I couldn’t workout and take care of my son at the same time, but something funny happened. After a few days of coming home, explaining to him what I was going to do, and inviting him into the living room to workout with me, he loved it!

Working out has become part of the routine for my two-year-old son. When I come home from work, after giving me a hug, he now says, “Dadda workout!”. He pulls me to the living room to get me moving. We both smile as we do squats together. We laugh as he climbs on my back or crawls under me during push-ups. And I help him as his legs float into the air and his tongue sticks out of his mouth determined to do a push-up. Sure, my workout is different when my son is around, and it may not be as intense, but it keeps me moving.

On top of that, it’s helping him build healthy habits and it is so much more rewarding.

This doesn’t just apply to workouts, either. I invite my son into the kitchen when I cook. It takes a little longer, but it’s quality time together. When we cook it’s a lesson in counting, colors, health, safety, and so much more. He’s not ready to be a master chef, but he lights up with joy when he gets to crack an egg, press a button to start the blender, or just carry the ingredients to and from the fridge. He is SO proud when we’re able to show mom the dinner WE created. There are messes and it takes patience, but because I got my workout in I feel great and I have more patience to give.

At first it may seem hard to justify, but when you feel guilty make sure you’re encouraging others around you to do the same. Tell your wife to take care of herself. Maybe it’s that yoga class with her friends, maybe it’s a bath with some scented candles, it doesn’t matter. You’ll see that the same way you have more to give when you take care of yourself, others will have more to give when they do the same.

Just like when you’re on the plane, you have to take care of yourself first. It is selfish, but that’s OK; you don’t have to feel guilty.

Joe Mauceri is a personal trainer, dad of two and co-founder of The Dad Habit. This article has been republished with permission. You can follow The Dad Habit on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.




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